Open Access

What is Open Access?
Open Access (OA) is about making research outputs freely accessible online at no charge to the reader, and with any restrictions on re-use minimised.The aim is to give researchers, members of the public, and industry access to all the research they need and to give them the freedom to build upon research already carried out.Open Access applies to all digital material, but current discussions focus mostly on peer-reviewed research articles published in scholarly journals or conference proceedings.Sheffield Hallam University supports the principles of Open Access and is committed to making the outputs of its research as widely available as possible.
The benefits of Open Access
  • Opening up access: Traditional journal subscription models meant that access was restricted to those who can afford to subscribe or belong to an organisation that subscribes. With Open Access anyone can have access to research outputs.
  • Higher citation rates: The Open Access Citation Advantage Service identified 70 studies up to 2015 on whether or not there is a citation advantage for Open Access articles. Most studies (46) found a citation advantage.  Disciplinary differences have been identified and not all studies find an advantage. Some recent studies that also discuss this issue:
    How open science helps researchers succeed. ELife, 5, e16800.
    The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles – a study by H. Piwowar et al. published Feb 13th 2018
  • Increased access and discoverability: Your work gets more exposure and collaborators, researchers, practitioners and the public, both nationally and internationally, can easily find and access it without any barriers.

Routes to journal Open Access: ´green´ and ´gold´

The ‘gold’ route to Open Access consists of publishing in a journal that provides immediate Open Access on the publisher’s website, often after paying an Article Processing Charge (APC) to cover publication costs.

The ‘green’ route to Open Access (‘self-archiving’) consists of depositing the final peer-reviewed copy (‘post-print’) of an article in an institutional (SHU’s respository is called SHURA) or subject repository in parallel with conventional publication. Your deposit may be subject to a publisher’s embargo.


SHU Open Access policy

The University’s policy for open access to publications applies to all research conducted at the University.  Academic Board endorsed the policy in 2014 and it was updated in 2019.

The first five points are summarised below:

  1. Authors must deposit a copy of research outputs resulting from SHU research
  2. Authors must deposit such a copy into Elements within 3 months of acceptance (in line with the REF 2021 policy).
  3. This applies to all types of output irrespective of format and is not restricted to the output types included in the REF 2021 policy.
  4. The deposited copy should usually be the author’s final peer-reviewed version of the manuscript.  The copy will then be made available on SHURA in accordance with the publisher’s policies.
  5. The University’s preference is to follow the green route to Open Access  which is deposit on SHURA. Funds are available for Gold Open Access where appropriate and funds allow.Read the full SHU Open Access publication policy
Open Access initiatives: Plan S, UK-SCL

Open Access is a fast moving area and there are several initiatives which are under development and may be of interest:

Coalition S and Plan S

Coalition S is an international consortium of research funders which includes the UKRI.

The coalition launched Plan S in September 2018. The ambition is that by 2020, publications which are publicly funded, will be published Open Access in compliant journals or platforms.

Funders are currently considering how they will implement Plan S. We are therefore waiting for clarification and further detail.  The SHU Open Access and RDM Operations Group will be monitoring developments.

Further information can be found on the Coalition S website or please contact Dr Eddy Verbaan, Head of Library Research Support, Telephone: 0114 225 3802, Email:

The Plan S FAQs are also useful.

** In response to feedback resulting from a call for responses to the plan,  revisions to Plan S were published in May 2019 ** and

You may also wish to read the UKRI announcement on Plan S and the UKRI announcement on Open Access Review

UK Scholarly Communications Licence

The UK Scholarly Communications Licence (UK-SCL) is a model open access policy with a standard set of licence terms designed for adoption by UK HE Institutions.

Sheffield Hallam University is monitoring the development of the UK-SCL.

We are aware that some journal editors and authors may be contacted by publishers about the licence.

Further information can be found on the UK-SCL website or please contact Dr Eddy Verbaan, Head of Library Research Support, Telephone: 0114 225 3802, Email:

Sharing your research outputs

As well as making your outputs Open Access, you may wish to share your published outputs through other routes, such as on social networks or when you receive a request from another researcher.  Please be aware that your publisher is likely to restrict where and how you can share your work and which versions you can use.  Find out more about sharing your research while considering what is allowed by your publisher.

Need help with Open Access?

Help with Who can help Contact
Elements, SHURA, Open Access routes, Funding for ‘gold’ Open Access and all general queries Library Services, Library Research Support Team
Publication strategies Unit of Assessment coordinators
Advice and guidance on funders’ terms and conditions Research and Innovation Services, Research Support Team
Advice and guidance on REF Research and Innovation Services, Research Support Team


Open Access Checklist